From Startup to Household Name


Every business has to start at the bottom and work its way up. A few examples that have become big household names are: Apple, PayPal, and, in the UK, Amstrad. Each of these businesses started as an idea and by hard work and perseverance, have grown into the big businesses that they are today.

According to Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Business, the start-up of any business has to do with “the pivot,” or, “a structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth.” Here are three businesses that pivoted by entering new markets before achieving huge commercial success.

Apple was founded in a Silicon Valley basement in 1976 and was launched in 1977-8. During this time, sales were at 7,800 and by 1984, the Apple Macintosh shifted toward using affordable computing, which made the company bounce to $128,000 in sales. Next, the company progressed to creating an IPod for the digital music market, and then progressed into mobile telecommunications with the iPhone. By 2013, Apple’s stock has reached its highest peak by hitting $800/share. It is now one of the biggest brands being used for entertainment.

PayPal is also another household name, which is now part of eBay. It started in 1998 as Confinity, founded in California by venture capitalist Peter Theil and programmer Max Levchin, and by 2001 PayPal controlled 65% of the online payments market, with over 9 million accounts. By 2002 the company was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion and had 16 million accounts. It has only grown since then and is now one of the most well known online money transfer systems.

One of the least known startup businesses shown in this infograph is Amstrad. It started back in 1968 and was founded by Alan Sugar as a seller low priced hi-fis and televisions. By the 1980s, it doubled in size. In the late 80s, it bought Sinclair and produced the first mass market IBM PC and within 6 months, controlled 25% of the European PC market. In 1989, Amstrad started to focus more on communications and became the number one supplier of satellite receivers in Europe. In 2007, BSkyB took over the company for 125 million pounds and it now supplies 30% of set-top box devices.

Every company starts small. And always a good idea to think big.


About the author: Kristen Barbagallo

Kristen Barbagallo graduated Purchase College with a B.A. in Journalism, a concentration in English, and a desire to learn everything she could about someone’s story. She also like to write and maintains a blog covering independent coffee shops in her New York neighborhood!

You are seconds away from signing up for the hottest list in New York Tech!

Join the millions and keep up with the stories shaping entrepreneurship. Sign up today.